Friday, July 20, 2018

Why Men Must Repent

At some point after leaving the garden, Adam received this invitation from the Lord: “If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son… ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  Adam then asked the Lord this simple, basic question about these first principles of the gospel: “Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water?”  The Savior did not answer his question directly, but He first addressed Adam’s concern he apparently was feeling: “Behold, I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.”  Adam may have thought that the need for repentance and baptism was somehow his fault because of what he did in Eden, but the Lord assured him that this was not a burden he needed to carry.  The Lord took care of Adam’s transgression, for “the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt.”  The need for repentance and baptism therefore is not because of Adam, but because for each of us “sin conceiveth in [our] hearts, and [we] taste the bitter” through our choices and experiences in life (Moses 6:52-55).  In other words, we become impure through the sin that conceives in all our hearts in this mortal journey. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Quiver Full

When I told someone recently that I had five children, all of whom are relatively young, he responded with the common quip, “Do you realize they know what causes that?!”  The attitude behind this statement seems to be the general feeling of the world in our generation, that children are a kind of burden on adults and we should seek to avoid them or at least minimize how many we invite into our homes.  But as I sit alone in a hotel in a foreign country, thousands of miles away from my children and their mother, I realize just how unfulfilling my life would be without them.  To paraphrase John, “I have no greater joy” than, with my wife, to hear my eight-year-old’s unrestrained excitement, my six-year-old’s unrepressed laughter, my four-year-old’s imaginative adventures, my two-year-old’s exclamations of “Daddy!”, and my four-month-old’s precious little calls to his mother (3 John 1:4). 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience

The following story is related in the biography on President Nelson about his time as an army doctor in Korea: “Russell recalls meeting a special wounded soldier in one M.A.S.H. As his team was visiting that facility, one of the doctors, knowing Lieutenant Nelson was a Latter-day Saint, asked him if he would like to meet a seventeen-year-old boy from Idaho who was a priest in the Church. The doctor thought the young patient would derive some comfort from meeting a fellow Latter-day Saint. On the way to the patient's tent, the doctor told Russell that this young man had received a gunshot wound that had severed his spinal cord, making him a permanent paraplegic. As he approached the soldier's bedside, Lieutenant Nelson wondered what he could say that would possibly be of comfort to this young man. After they were introduced, the perceptive young man could tell that Dr. Nelson was genuinely compassionate and concerned for his welfare. This fine young priest uttered words that Russell would never forget: ‘Don't worry about me, Brother Nelson, for I know why I was sent to the earth—to gain experiences and work out my salvation. I work out my salvation with my mind and not with my legs. I'll be all right!’ Russell humbly recorded, ‘The faith of that young man has motivated me ever since. He accepted the fact that he would never walk again as a challenge which would fortify his faith even further.’” (See chapter 10 of Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle by Spencer J. Condie.)  What a powerful example about perspective and the true purpose of life! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Our Mothers Knew It

In the amazing story of the stripling warriors who were preserved miraculously in the terrible war with the Lamanites, we are told how they developed such great faith.  Helaman, their leader, recounted, “They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.  And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:47-48).  Helaman also commented on the cause of their unfailing obedience: “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them” (Alma 57:21).  The teachings of their mothers had helped them develop strict obedience and invincible faith, and because of that they were able to stand in the strength of the Lord against the Lamanites.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Broader Vision

I’m impressed by the story that Elder Joni Koch told about his father in a recent general conference.  At a church meeting in which the members were discussing the plans for constructing a new building, Elder Koch’s father “who had previously presided over that unit for years, expressed his very strong opinion that this work should be done by a contractor and not by amateurs.”  Elder Koch explained, “Not only was his opinion rejected, but we heard that he was severely and publicly rebuked on that occasion.”  How would he respond to such a humiliating situation?  Would he become embittered against the church or its leaders?  Elder Koch continued, “My dad, however, decided to remain one with our fellow Saints.  Some days later, when ward members were gathering to help in the construction, he ‘invited’ our family to follow him to the meetinghouse, where we would make ourselves available to help in any way.”  What incredible humility he showed in being willing to contribute his own labor after having been publicly rebuked on the matter.  And what a difference such behavior must have made for the future of his family.  If he had continued to fight against the decision, he would have likely left his family bitter and upset with the church, perhaps spiraling into inactivity in the church and the gospel.  He died shortly thereafter, and his family could have easily been alienated at that point if they had still had hard feelings about the matter.  Elder Koch’s father clearly had a bigger vision of what was really important and could suffer through the difficulties of the moment in order to keep his family rooted in the gospel path.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Meekness of Moses

In the book of Numbers we read this parenthetical description about Moses: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).  This was evident in Moses’s response to his initial call to the ministry: “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10).  Unlike most modern leaders, he was quick to acknowledge before the Lord his weakness and his feelings of inadequacy.  Though he was one who was ultimately given great power to lead the vast throng of the children of Israel, he humbly recognized his place before the Lord. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Creator of Heaven

One of the statements that is repeated numerous times in the Book of Mormon is that God created the heavens and the earth.  Lehi testified to his sons, “There is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (2 Nephi 2:14).  Jacob spoke of the “all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth” (Jacob 2:5).  The angel told King Benjamin, “he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning,” and the people who heard the words similarly testified, “we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things.”  King Benjamin’s final words to them were a reference Him who “created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all” (Mosiah 3:8, 4:2, 5:15).  Aaron taught the Lamanite king, “He is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth” (Alma 22:10).  When Christ visited the Nephites He testified, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (3 Nephi 9:15).  Moroni spoke to us about the “God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (Mormon 9:11).  All of these references together make it clear that Jesus was the creator of the heavens and the earth.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Humility and Happiness

After the Savior humbly washed the apostles’ feet, He gave this commentary on what He had just done, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:15-17).  It goes against the way that the world would view the attainment of happiness, but the message here from the Savior is that joy comes through humbly serving others as He had done to them.  We often speak of the need to serve in order to be happy—and surely we do—but we don’t often speak of the need to have humility as a prerequisite for happiness. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Scourging

As the Savior headed to Jerusalem for the final events of His life, He prophesied, “The Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Matt. 20:18-19).  Here he highlighted one of the ways in which He was going to suffer: He would be scourged.  This is exactly what Pilate did to Him: “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).  We don’t often speak of this brutal whipping that Jesus received shortly before He was led to the cross, but surely it was part of the great atoning sacrifice for each of us. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Resilient Children

Last night after my six-year-old had a very difficult time because he was tired and didn’t get what he desired, I asked myself and my wife, “How do we teach our kids to be resilient when they don’t get what they want?”  She pointed me to this article, Raising Resilient Children, which highlights the need for parents to raise children who understand two things in particular: that there is “an opposition in all things,” and that “obtaining anything of great worth often requires great sacrifice.”  The author also suggested that resilient children “see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes.”  In other words, we need to raise children who know how to handle disappointment and opposition and difficulties.  Our children need to have the confidence to know that they can, because of their divine identity, face any challenge that comes to them, for those challenges will indeed come.  They need to understand that obtaining good outcomes in life will require work and sacrifice. Sister Joy D. Jones observed in a recent general conference: “I have witnessed the strength of many children throughout the world. They stand resilient, ‘steadfast and immovable’ in a variety of challenging circumstances and environments. These children understand their divine identity, feel Heavenly Father’s love for them, and seek to obey His will.”  We have to help children understand who they are—children of God—so they will have confidence to seek His help and do the work required to keep His commandments.